Hornet, one of many gay social apps known most for their hookup utility, is changing face and moving toward health advocacy with their new emoji keyboard.
“While many people still find it hard to talk about sexual health, Hornet, the world’s premier gay social network, recently released the new Talkmoji keyboard, which is designed to make communicating about sexual health even easier,” Mark Umbach, VP of marketing firm MWW wrote.
Hornet helped to produce the keyboard, but when downloaded the Talkmoji keyboard can be used in any application on Android and iPhone.
Alex Garner, Hornet’s Senior Health Innovation Strategist told SFGN that the Talkmoji keyboard was an attempt to turn the keyboard trend toward something beneficial to the LGBT community — an easy way to start conversation on a number of health topics.
“There is a sort of keyboard trend that we know resonates with audiences — with the gay audience in particular,” Garner said. “Part of the thinking behind it was the understanding of how easily people communicate with [emoji] keyboards particularly on issues that might often be difficult to talk about.”
One of the most prominent goals of Hornet’s new keyboard is to promote the discussion of HIV status, not only positive and negative but also more subcategory classifications — whether someone is on PrEP or ART, or if their viral load is undetectable.
Garner pointed out that this keyboard may also be used to explore topics people are unfamiliar with. Not everyone, according to Garner, is familiar with terms like PrEP or undetectable.
“We look at some HIV topics, there has been such social media attention around the undetectable issue, there is always a conversation about how that is represented, what words to use, will the community know what you mean,” Garner said. “With all of these health issues you cannot assume that everyone knows what you mean. We want to be able to give people a base knowledge, a starting point, and see where they take the conversation from there.”
While the keyboard seeks to encourage discussions about health and safety, Garner assures that the keyboard is fun and contains a number of flags, emoji, images and more to be used as a unique and fun form of expression.
“Something like this keyboard simply allows more options for people to [express themselves,]” Garner said. “It's fun, some of the emojis are silly, and if it is something that people want to utilize, it gives them more options to do so.”
Garner hopes that as the keyboard’s popularity grows, the keyboard will be able to expand. Hornet hopes to add more emoji, and maybe explore gif responses and dynamic emoji alongside the current offering.
The team behind the keyboard is also up for suggestions, and the keyboard will update according to trends and events in the LGBT community. For example, the keyboard has a number of LGBT pride flags for many groups within the community, and Garner said the team has had conversations about adding the “More Color More Pride” flag.
All in all, Garner and Hornet hope this keyboard will facilitate more forms of self-expression and will keep users healthy, happy and safe.
“Giving people plenty of options in terms of self-expression is of critical importance, particularly in our community where we strive to express ourselves, affirmatively declare who we are, express our gender,” Garner said.
The Talkmoji Keyboard is available on the App Store and Google Play.